Floridaso named by its discoverers from the abundance, beauty and fragrance of its flowers. The Land of Flowerswhat a beautiful sentiment. Alas, it was never called anything of the sort. Land happening to be first seen by the brave and sturdy warrior but not imaginative linguist, Juan Ponce de Leon, on Palm Sunday, his discovery was called, with due and Catholic reverence, after the day and not after any abundance of flowers, which were probably not abundant on the sand spit where he planted his intrusive feet. But no matter about the origin of the term, the epithet is more than justified, and the Peninsular State is not only glorious in the endless beauty and variety of its flowerstill in good old English it might be termed one huge nosegaybut it is magnificent in the grandeur and originality of its foliage. The jessamine climbs above the deep swamps and lights up their darkness with its yellow stars; the magnolia towers in the open upland a pyramid of vestal splendor; the cabbage palmetto waves its huge fan-shaped leaves, seven feet long, like great green hands, and the moss hangs and sways and covers the bare limbs with its ragged clothing.
To the rough, practical Northern mind, Florida is a land of dreams, a strange country full of surprises, an intangible sort of a place, where at first nothing is believed to be real and where finally everything is considered to be possible. When the visitor first arrives he cannot be convinced that the cows feed under water; before he leaves he is willing to concede that alligators may live on chestnuts. The animals and birds are as queer and unnatural as the herbage, or as a climate which furnishes strawberries, green peas, shad, and roses at Christmas. There is the Limpkin, the pursuit of which reminds one of hunting the Snark. You are in continual terror of catching the Boojum. It is a bird about the size of a fish-hawk, but it roars like a lion and screeches like a wild-cat, although it occasionally whistles like a canary. It has a bill like that of a curlew, adapted to probing in the sand, and yet it sits on trees as though it were a woodpecker. It is conversational and talks to you in a friendly way during daytime, but at night it harrows up your soul and makes your blood run cold with the fearful noises it utters. If you hear any charming note or awful sound, any pretty song or terrifying scream, and ask a native Floridian, with pleased or trembling tongue, "What is that?" he will calmly answer, "That? that is a Limpkin." There are no dangerous animals in Florida, only a few of Eve's old enemies, and the sportsman is safer in the woods at night under the moss-covered trees and on his moss-constructed mattress than in his bed in the family mansion on Fifth avenue. If he hears any unearthly noises, any soul-curdling shrieks, he can turn to sleep again with the comfortable assurance "that it is only a Limpkin."
To the sportsman it is needless to say that Florida, when properly investigated, is a Paradise. Birds and fish and game are only too plentiful, till it has become a land of shameful slaughter. The brute with a gun slays the less brutish animal for the mere pleasure of murder when he cannot get, much less use, what he kills, till on most of the pleasure steamers shooting has been prohibited; while the idiot with the rod fills his boat with splendid fish that rot in the hot sun and have to be thrown back, putrefying, into the water from which his undisciplined passion hauled them. Sportsman should not come to this land of promise and performance unless they can control their instincts, for fear that they should degenerate into mere killers. In truth, the excess of abundance takes away the keener zest of sport, which is largely due to the difficulties that surround success. But for the ordinary inhabitant of the rugged North, the quaintness of this border land of the equator has an immense charm, while to the invalid the pure, dry, warm air of both winter and